Relative Definitions of “Maturity” or “Morality”?

When there’s a conflict regarding the entertainment value of a certain situation, it often comes down to a conflict of belief over what constitutes “maturity.” The party who finds the situation to lack entertainment value finds themselves considering the party who thinks it’s entertaining to be “immature” while conversely the entertained person finds the unamused to be “no fun.”

At first glance this appears to be a fully relativistic situation, which if you have fully relativistic morals it can be… which means that what it really comes down to is not a conflict of maturity level, (unless the amused party is of an age where their personal moral compass is still developing) but of clashing moral values.

Let us, for example, take the basest of humor. Bodily functions.

Let us start for example with the supposition that someone farts.

To the person who’s moral compass is prescribed by social pressure and archaic etiquette requirements, we shall call this class of person more conservative, a person passing gas, in any circumstance, can be dealt with in one of two ways. Either the person can put themselves forward directly, as a policer of others, bodies by  directly shaming the flatulent party, or they can apply more oblique social pressure in the form of raucous laughter meant to induce embarrassment in the flatulent one, who has transgressed by failing to remove themselves from the presence of others before expelling gas. This comes with the added bonus of forming social bond with anyone else present who also laughs, and thus makes their agreement clear in ways they would be less prone to do in a situation of direct confrontation. As a result many more conservative types persist in considering farts funny well into adulthood, labeling those who vocally disagree as “no fun.”

To the person who’s moral compass is prescribed by more practical concerns of harm done, and direct cause and effect, without regard for more traditional etiquette, let us say someone more progressive, a person passing gas is in many circumstances something to be simply ignored and moved past. To these people flatulence is a natural consequence of being human and the transgression would be to comment at all unless the flatulence in question has caused a lingering effect (like a foul odor) and in any case ridiculing laughter would be considered to cause more harm than good, and so the proper response would be taking action to mitigate the effect (opening a window and fanning the air.) As a result these party would consider the laughter of the above conservative parties to be the transgression, rather than the fart, labeling their reactions “immature.”

Now conversely, lets us say that someone, in the course of a joke, mentions that they are menstruating.

The more conservative party, would not be able to laugh, regardless of whether the joke in question was funny, as that would constitute agreement with the speaker’s transgression of failing to hide their current menstrual status. They would consider anyone who does laugh to be “immature” for not realizing this transgression, or for realizing it and giving tacit agreement thru laughter.

Meanwhile the more progressive individuals, if the joke is otherwise funny would be likely to laugh, as they consider menstruation to be a fact of life, and no impact whatsoever on the relative entertainment value of the joke. If called to the mat over this by the above conservative types, they would have to consider them to be “no fun.”

In a purely relativistic situation each party could describe the other as “immature” because they naturally expect that a fully developed moral compass is identical to their own. This is a mistake. In truth the party considering the other to be “immature” is likely to be the immature party, due to their own underdeveloped relationship to critical thinking, which if applied would bring them to the conclusion that it’s a morality issue, not a maturity one. It’s an easy enough mistake to make, particularly as the more conservative viewpoint actually mimics quite closely the childhood body humor phase which most of us grow well out of. It’s a folly I’ve found myself perpetrating in the past.

It’s not about who’s more mature. It’s about who’s morality is “correct.”

And I would put forth that the “correct” position is that of the more progressive person who recognizes bodily functions as being for the most part below the need for comment. Why? Because we all fart. It’s a consequence of having a human body, and those who have a problem with a fart often have a problem with other bodily functions and their existence as well.

There is no shame in a fart, or in a burp.  There’s no shame in vomiting, or having bowel trouble. There is no shame in menstruation, or not menstruating, or being pregnant, or not being able to be pregnant. There is no shame in an unwanted erection, or erectile dysfunction. There is no shame in having genitals, whatever they may be like, however they may match or mismatch with your gender identity, and however you choose to use them with other consenting parties. There is no shame in wearing underwear, or not. There’s no shame in a woman’s exposed breasts if she chooses to bear them. There’s no shame in being fat. There’s no shame in being skinny.

The position which shames bodies is the morally wrong position, from where I sit.

8^)

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